Lightsabers & Blasters LED Blade Q and A's

Discussion in 'Costuming and Props' started by UltraSWG, Aug 8, 2005.

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  1. UltraSWG Jedi Knight

    Member Since:
    Jun 20, 2005
    star 2
    I really feel bad about derailing Jedi Loreen's thread, so I won't be posting there anymore. If you have any questions about LED blades, post them here and I'll try to answer. While there are people considerably more experienced than me (Corbin, Shannon, Ionsabers, etc), I have built several LED and EL sabers, and have converted some MRFX LED sabers to Luxeon and will answer whatever I can.

    If there is anyone else out there with LED expertise, I'd love to swap some info with ya.

    Here's some general info.

    The LED's being used in most of the LED sabers being created now days are 1watt and 3watt Luxeons. The 1watt Luxeons come in Star/o form, which includes the LED emitter, optics, and an aluminum plate:

    [image=http://www.lumileds.com/images/productphotos/white_star_o.jpg]

    Star/o's are easy to work with and produce very little heat. Different colors have different brightnesses on the Star/o's. The brightest colors are red, red/orange, and green which are rated for over 50 lumens. You can see the different colors and their lumen rating on the manufacturer's website, you can order the LED's from there as well:

    http://www.lumileds.com/products/family.cfm?familyId=2

    The power setup I have been using for 1watt Luxeons has proven to be easy and reliable:

    Four AAA batteries run in series through an 8ohm 1watt resistor directly to the LED

    I use AAA's instead of AA's because I use a smaller 1.25"OD hilt instead of the larger 1.5"

    As for the blade, I use 1" polycarb with the 1/16"OD from USplastics. It's inexpensive, and has proven to be very rigid with hardly any flex. For the diffuser, I have been using the custom blade film from Corbin Das http://www.youcanknow.org/corbin
    The Star/o fits inside the blade up to the aluminum plate.

    The technique I use is to secure the Star/o under the blade holder inside the hilt. Then the blade slides inside the blade holder, over the star/o, and is held in place with a thumb screw.

    There is nothing inside the detachable blades of my sabers except the blade film. The hilt contains the LED inside and if you're walking around outside without the blade, the hilt makes a nice torch. It's nice not having to worry about frying an inverter by accidently hitting the power with no load.

    Anyway, if you can think of anymore questions, post em.
  2. Strydur Jedi Knight

    Member Since:
    May 9, 2005
    star 2
    UltraSWG,

    Thanks for starting a thread to share your info on LED's

    I have some LED's on the way and am looking forward to trying them out. I found some 8.2OHM 1W resistors, I hope they will do the trick.

    Corbin is on vacation for about 2 more weeks so cant get any film. Can you explain in more detail how the film works or what it is made of. Maybe I can find a alternative until he gets back. Got any pictures of it?

  3. Jedi-Magus Jedi Padawan

    Member Since:
    Jul 25, 2005
    Glad this was moved to another thread.

    I was asking around, but no responce yet.

    I have used Solid core, side light, fibre optic cable before. I know it comes in 3/4", cheap, and might be easier then a defuser film in the blade.

    I was thinking it might make a good blade, by running the solid core in a Poly C tube like the EL blades, but with a good LED underneath. It would need a reflector of some kind im sure for the LED, And i know some LEDs have a angeled output patterns to the light.

    The end LED/Optic cable holder might be a bit hard.

    The cable i used was with a BIG projector box to run it, with Halogen lamps for use in a night club. I think the newer LEDs might be bright enough now a days.( the old install was about 3 years ago )

    Has anyone Played with this idea?
    Just wondering, because i cant afford to make one just to test it right now.

    Im not sure about any of this, sites that sell LEDs are a bit confusing with all the info, but, just a thought I hadnt heard mentioned yet.

    Im so confused by all the LED VS. EL VS. power VS. brightness, discussions going around, I just want a good and bright blade, but dont need to light up a room.
  4. UltraSWG Jedi Knight

    Member Since:
    Jun 20, 2005
    star 2
    Well, it's a very thin translucent white plastic that has what looks like ridges in it. I can't really describe it much better than that. I might have a scrap piece of it lying around that I can take a pic of.

    The stuff was pretty hard to use at first. You have to cut it to match the inside circumference of your blade so that there is only a tiny overlap. If you don't cut it close, you'll get a seam in your blade. Then I had to roll it around a small dowel and slip it into the blade. Like I said, difficult at first, but I have the hang of it now.

    I have been experimenting with different diffuser techniques. Honestly, the best results I have gotten so far are on the MRFX conversions. The MR blades have a very thin white plastic tubing inside their 1" polyC blades. Corbin described it as a "dual tube" design. I'm trying to reproduce the effect with some thin wall polyE tube that I ordered from mcmaster. The MRFX blades light up very nicely with the single Luxeon, so if you happen to have one lying around, try it out.

    I bought 5 nonfunctional MRFX sabers on ebay from ajcollecting, just do a search for "FX Bundle"

    And I have some more questions for Corbin, but yeah, he's gone till the 22nd, damnit.
  5. Strydur Jedi Knight

    Member Since:
    May 9, 2005
    star 2
    Cool, I have a MR blade lying around. So the thin piece inside those is pretty much the same thing?
    So, if I was to get some custom made 1" OD polyc colored white I would be good to go eh?
  6. UltraSWG Jedi Knight

    Member Since:
    Jun 20, 2005
    star 2
    It's not the same as corbin's blade film. The blade film produces a coring effect down the center of the blade and gives the illusion of a taper. The white tube in the MRFX lights up with the color of the LED and it is more uniform. It's very EL'ish (just brighter), and my wife and kids seem to think it looks better.

    I think if you got some white polyC it would work very well, can you really do that? How much do you think it would cost?
  7. UltraSWG Jedi Knight

    Member Since:
    Jun 20, 2005
    star 2
    Jedi Magus, I have been thinking about side-emitting fiber for awhile and am just not sure how well it would work. I haven't found a supplier to even talk to about it. I have seen an LED powered lamp for the cable, but it did not look very portable.

    http://www.fiberopticproducts.com/Novabright.htm

    It looks promising, just not sure if the tech is here yet.
  8. Strydur Jedi Knight

    Member Since:
    May 9, 2005
    star 2
    I could get some made yes..will I is a different story.[face_whistling]

    I will have to see how the testing goes.
  9. UltraSWG Jedi Knight

    Member Since:
    Jun 20, 2005
    star 2
    I'd like to try some colored polyC tubes, I think those would work well, too. Do you have the hookups on any of those?
  10. Shavoc Jedi Padawan

    Member Since:
    Aug 9, 2005
    Hello Ultra,

    kinda new here, I have done a couple of searches and saw examples of the EL sabers do you have any examples of the LED with the configuration you mentioned above? Thanks
  11. Shavoc Jedi Padawan

    Member Since:
    Aug 9, 2005
    Another quick question I was noticing the Star-O's have different distribution patterns, which is the norm in this case? do they all come with the same optics? Thanks
  12. Darth_Feral Jedi Knight

    Member Since:
    Jul 17, 2005
    Thanks for the info, I had been wondering on how to go about getting my hands on some higher rate materials since i heard that MR was using some kind of LED technology.


    BTW (OT)
    Your discussion in that other thread about that company was kick a$$.
  13. UltraSWG Jedi Knight

    Member Since:
    Jun 20, 2005
    star 2
    S_S edit: removed comments that are a flame war waiting to happen. People are entitled to their opinions, and you may disagree, but do not resort to casting aspersions on those opinions or people's intelligence.

    LED's are used in traffic lights and are replacing normal bulbs in automobile lights. Hasn't anyone seen the LED array on the back of a Cadillac? You can easily see those LED's in daylight, and they aren't even considered 'powerful' like the Luxeons.

    Anyway, to answer Shavoc's question, Batwing and Lambertian patterns both work well in LED sabers. All Star/o's use the same optics.

    For those disappointed with red EL being too dim, a red Luxeon saber will definately please. Here's some pics of LED sabers made by Shannon using a dual-tube design:

    [image=http://www.picturehosting.com/images/corbin/redorange_1.jpg]

    [image=http://www.picturehosting.com/images/corbin/purpleled_1.jpg]

    [image=http://www.picturehosting.com/images/corbin/cyanandorangef_1.jpg]

    I'll be taking some new pics of my latest MRFX luxeon conversions here soon.
  14. UltraSWG Jedi Knight

    Member Since:
    Jun 20, 2005
    star 2
    Looks like the mod pwn'd my post, so I'll repost the context more tactfully. Someone posted in another thread that you can't see LED's in daylight, or rather, that they weren't easily seen in daylight. Just look around you and you can see LED's everywhere. Most traffic lights now days are LED arrays, and many cars use LED's in their tailights. You can easily see them in the day, so obviously, that statement is incorrect.
  15. Shavoc Jedi Padawan

    Member Since:
    Aug 9, 2005
    Well, I have a green star-o on the way (you dont see too many green blades) ... should be here later this week once I have finished assembly I will post it here. Thanks for the feed back

    How did you set up your heat sink? Thanks
  16. Maleficant Jedi Grand Master

    Member Since:
    Jun 16, 2002
    star 5
    Ohhhh....


    I am about to start work on a custom Sith saber and I was about to purchase an EL red blade but I know that LED red blades are brighter so if anyone can point me in the direction to purchase a finished Red LED blade, via pm, I would be so grateful.


  17. LATOPADEYOR Jedi Knight

    Member Since:
    Jun 20, 2005
    star 2
    Are the pics of the "red" blade you posted red or are the they the red/orange that you talked about... I know the one that Shannon made says red/orange right on it, but what about the one in your hand...I'm just asking because they look very orange...I'll say one thing for the LED blades...in particular about the pics you posted... That is the best representation of the Star Wars Mace Windu purple that I have seen. All the other purple sabers I've seen just don't look like the right colour to me, but the one in the pic there actually looks like it should look. I had no intention of trying to build an LED saber until I saw the picture of that purple blade.... I think I will have to try one now..that purple looked awesome... I wasn't soo crazy about the other ones, but if the red was actually red/orange that might explain it... the blue looked allright, but that purple blade actually looks like a lightsaber....kudos...excellent.
    Impressive.....most impressive.
    But I don't see anywhere on Corbin's site or on Lumileds where it shows purple LEDs...where did the purple LED for that blade in the pic come from?
  18. LATOPADEYOR Jedi Knight

    Member Since:
    Jun 20, 2005
    star 2
    I've seen wiring diagrams for using a board, but could you provide a diagram or description of you simply wiring it through a resister only....it seems self-explanatory, and I'm sure it is, but just in case I'm stupid and don't know it.... and is there any advantages of running the batteries in series? or does it not matter? Could you apply more power for more brightness by using more batteries? I doubt it, but I'm no engineer... and don't have any experience with LEDs.
    BTW, I like the pic of you weilding the 2 sabers...you look like a really really happy guy...what a smile, lol.[face_laugh]
  19. UltraSWG Jedi Knight

    Member Since:
    Jun 20, 2005
    star 2
    Red/Orange LED's look bright red in real life, but the digital cameras pick up the orange light more than the red, so the blade looks orange in pictures. The purple saber above was not made with a purple LED, Shannon used a white LED with a purple filter. That's why it has such a nice coring effect. You're right, I think it looks awesome.

    Here's a wiring diagram I made up real quick. It's pretty simple to hook up.

    [image=http://img326.imageshack.us/img326/8871/ledwiringdiagram6di.gif]

    Shavoc, for the heatsink I just went into my garage and grabbed an aluminum bolt I had laying around and stuck it on the bottom of the aluminum plate with some heatsink compound. However, two of the sabers I have made use no additional heatsinking with the configuration above - they simply never got hot. Test it yourself.

    Also, I have an idea for a dual-tube design that I am trying right now. I'm going to use some extremely thin walled nylon tubing, mcmaster.com part #8628K64

    White Nylon 6/6 Hollow Rod 7/8" OD, 13/16" ID, 5' Length, $4.22 each

    If I guessed correctly, it will fit right inside one of my 1"OD polyC tubes, and should then look identicle to an MRFX blade. I'll let yall know it goes.

    now to answer the last questions:

    "is there any advantages of running the batteries in series? or does it not matter?"
    There is no real advantage, running them in series is just simpler. You can run batteries in parallel but you'll need to calculate for a different resistor.

    "Could you apply more power for more brightness by using more batteries?"

    LED's respond more to current, than voltage. The Star/o's produce their typical luminous flux (brightness) at 350ma. You can push some of them to 500-550ma and they will be brighter, but life of the LED will suffer.
  20. LATOPADEYOR Jedi Knight

    Member Since:
    Jun 20, 2005
    star 2
    Thanks for the response...I just have a question concerning what was used for a "purple" filter, and what you meant by that.... I've now become super interested in doing an LED saber, everytime I look at the pic, I like it more and more. The coring effect looks awesome.
    I know that they can be seen better than EL in the light, but having never seen one in daylight (the only time I saw one was at a fireworks show at night and the thing could be seen from a very far distance)...how bright are they during the day... still kind of invisible, or do they look allright in the light? I really got to make one of these things to see how it really looks but any info you could give me would be much appreciated...Thanks.
  21. Maleficant Jedi Grand Master

    Member Since:
    Jun 16, 2002
    star 5
    If I am not mistaken, the MR FX sabers are LED blades and are very bright in daylight. :)
  22. UltraSWG Jedi Knight

    Member Since:
    Jun 20, 2005
    star 2
    In a room lit by daylight, you can see an LED blade better than an EL. This doesn't mean that you can see an LED blade in full direct sunlight, though. No saber is that powerful yet.

    MRFX sabers do use LED's now instead of EL, but it's done by running a series of LED's up the length of the blade, which is different that having a single high-powered LED at the base of the blade.

    [image=http://i7.ebayimg.com/01/i/04/0a/bb/58_1_b.JPG]

    That array is actually made by Graflexshop, but it's the same principle that MR uses. The drawback of using that LED technique is that you can't duel with it without risking damage to the LED array inside the blade.

    A "filter" is simply a colored piece of clear plastic, usually used with lights and cameras, to change the color of white light. You can find colored flashlight filters at most sporting goods stores. Using a filter and a white LED, you can make some very cool looking sabers in colors you can't normally find.
  23. UltraSWG Jedi Knight

    Member Since:
    Jun 20, 2005
    star 2
    It just occured to me, you can used colored cellophane as a filter. You can find cellophane at just about any craft store, the Wal-Mart in my area sells it in their craft section. It's cheap and comes in purple.
  24. LATOPADEYOR Jedi Knight

    Member Since:
    Jun 20, 2005
    star 2
    perfect thanks...I'm gonna go check out Walmart tomorrow. So, in the daylight, it's prety much the same as an MR saber or brighter? My MR looks allright in the light, I guess, but you still need darkness for it to look good, but I understand you can't stand out in the sun and expect them to look like they would at night.
    Oh, and the board on Corbin's site mentions having a power up power down effect...how does that work exactly? It wasn't altogether clear...do you need a special kind of blade for that to work? And were all those sabers in the pictures done with a white LED and a filter or just the purple one, the reddish/orange saber seems to have a nice coring effect to it too, was that just the red LED giving it that effect? In the first pic showing the red saber, on the picture on the left, there looks like there's a very nice coring effect to it..still looks orange, but you already explained that it was more due to what happens when a photo is taken, and they normally don't look that orange. The blue one didn't seem to have the same coring effect so I was wondering if they were of different designs. I ask all of this because a while back I saw some LED sabers on Ebay and they didn't look anywhere near as good as the ones in the pic, and I was wondering if that was because a filter was used...again, thanks.
  25. Rutantia Jedi Padawan

    Member Since:
    Aug 10, 2005
    Do white leds have a higher light output than colored leds?
    Rather, would a white led in a colored blade be brighter than a colored led in a clear blade?
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